Achieving efficiency in sampling, and sample handling of contraband drugs is integral to the successful operation of field detection and analytical systems, and represents a major technology challenge. One of the most popular methods of sampling surfaces for contraband drugs is the use of swipes. However, the detailed evaluation of swiping procedures, swipe materials, the effect of surfaces, wet swipes vs. dry swipes, environmental factors, to mention several; have not been performed. We have initiated studies of sampling and sample handling as an adjunct to the development of man-portable detection instrumentation for contraband drugs. The goal is to understand the parameters critical to achieving maximum efficiency in sampling surfaces. The choice of swipe material makes a great difference. The nature of the surface sampled is very important as well Our studies have shown that various degrees of roughness, porosity, and mechanical damage can contribute to as much as 32 percent of the target drug being retained by the surface after swiping. This paper will present details of our progress in understanding the various parameters in sampling with a goal to assist in standardizing field sampling as much as possible among detection instruments.